I was talking with a friend the other night about his job. He loves his job, and has been with the company for a couple of years, but lately he is feeling like it’s time to move on. Not because there’s no room for advancement, or because the pay is bad, or because he wants to try a different career. He is tired of the way he is treated by his supervisors. Mostly this comes from their disregard for the work he does, but in some instances, he has been downright bullied by them. He works in a male-dominated field, and there is a good deal of “boys will be boys” behavior in his workplace. Sometimes he can joke with the best of them, but other times lines are crossed and if he points it out, he’s the cry baby of the bunch. I know my friend wants to keep his job, which he does take great pride in, but is finding it difficult to look forward to being harassed on a daily basis. This story only cements my long-held belief that we do not quit our jobs, we quit our bosses.
I had a job I loved. I spent every free moment either working or learning about the job. I gave up my nights, my weekends, and almost all of my social life because I loved this job. None of that phased me. And I worked with great people! How could it ever go sour?
It did, of course, and it was because of my boss.
For six months, I was straight up dicked around. I will not go into details, as I respect the company and community I used to work for, but suffice it to say that there were many broken promises, a good deal of hostile behavior, and an unrealistic workload placed on me by my supervisor that made my job unbearable. I walked out during a crucial moment, which I have always regretted, not for my former boss’ sake but for the people I was working with. However, I realized then that as much as I loved my job, I was starting to resent it because of my boss. I was tired of being taken for granted, of being the punching bag when something went wrong, of being left out of decisions I was told I would be a part of. In the end, he believed I quit over a pay dispute, which is laughable. I never cared what I was paid, I only cared that I was respected.
I had another boss once that created a hostile work environment. I remember being warned about her on my first day, but I wasn’t too worried as she was not my immediate supervisor. My co-workers were literally scared of her. One day I saw her berate a teacher’s aide in front of a class because she didn’t approve of the skirt the woman was wearing. It didnt necessarily break her instated dress code (which was an unrealistic expectation for people who play on the floor all day,) she just didn’t like it. The woman ended up in tears. I took this as a sign, and I was right.
The only time this woman ever spoke to me was to fire me. My supervisor had gone to the hospital, and she took the opportunity to clean house. She gave me no reason, just escorted me out of the building like a criminal. The man in charge of hiring and firing looked at me with sympathy in his eyes, and I got the distinct impression from him that this was not something he expected. I later heard that this woman fired several aides and other employees without giving any reasons, and one woman contacted me about writing a letter to the agency about it. I didn’t, as I had already found another position and was happy to be out of the micro-hell she had created. I had liked that job, but if that was the boss I was working with, I was glad to be gone.
People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. Most of us find some kind of peace in the work we do, even if it’s not what we planned on doing with our lives. Most people have a work ethic and a desire to go out and make money, and can find little pleasures in what they accomplish. Sometimes though, you end up with someone in charge of you who either should never be given such a position of authority, or is incapable of human social interactions, or just plain doesn’t know what they are doing. Sometimes you recognize that, and work becomes more of a chore than it was before. It becomes something grueling and unbearable, and every day you wake up less excited than you were the day prior. Being underappreciated at work takes a toll on people, until one day they just up and quit, often leaving a baffled boss in their wake. The supervisor will assume something like “he can’t handle the job” or “she wants more money” and never realize that it’s THEIR fault you left, that they are the reason the workplace has become hostile, and that they are only going to continue to bleed workers until they recognize the problem lies within.
People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses.